ESL Protocols

Pitt-Johnstown English as a Second Language (ESL) Protocols

The ESL course sequence is designed to help students whose first language is not English develop the oral and written English language skills essential to excel at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown. 

Following their matriculation, UPJ Admissions identifies all admitted international students whose first language is not English and who are not exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirements for placement testing; these students take both the Johnstown Test of English Language Proficiency (JTEPL) and the Johnstown version of the International English Language Testing System (JIELTS) during UPJ Orientation. 

Those students whose performance does not indicate college level proficiency in writing, speaking, and comprehending the English language are placed into the ESL course sequence. 

This course sequence is designed to provide students with focused learning environments that both accelerate their familiarity with and comprehension of the spoken language and their ability to effectively communicate in both writing and in speech in English.

Placement Exams

All International Students who have been admitted (and are not exempt from the requirement to produce a TOEFL exam score) will be required to take a four part placement exam during Orientation; this will allow us to determine each student’s ability in the areas of writing, reading, listening, and speaking.

UPJ’s four part placement exam:

  • Part 1: The first part of our exam is a 100 question exam that tests grammar, reading, and understanding of conventions.  It is graded in two sections: 80 questions address Grammar, Structure, and Conventions of English and 20 questions address a students’ ability to Read and comprehend short passages in English..
  • Part 2: The second part of our exam is an essay.  Students must craft one essay from three options.  They read short passages, then respond to a prompt.  The essay is scored from 1-5 1 (poor ability) to a 5 (excellent proficiency). 
  • Part 3: the third part of our exam requires students to read from an exam book to demonstrate their ability to speak and comprehend written English; they can earn a grade from a 1 (poor ability) to a 5 (excellent proficiency). 
  • The last part of the exam tests students’ ability to comprehend the spoken word; it is a listening exam and requires that students listen to four recordings of men and women reading lectures or having conversations; they must answer questions about the lecture or conversation following each recording.  Students respond to a total of 40 questions.

ESL Courses:

Student’s performance on each of these exams will determine their placement in foundational composition  and public speaking courses that are appropriate to their ability.  Students whose scores indicate that they will benefit from intensive work on their English skills in writing, reading, listening, or speaking will be placed in a course sequence that will provide them with the opportunity to focus on developing their language skills so that they have the writing, reading, and speaking skills to succeed and excel at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown; this may include additional courses that prepare them for required foundational courses in English Composition and Public Speaking.

  • ENGLIT0040 ESL READING WORKSHOP (2 cr.):  Offered each fall, this course is designed for students whose first language is not English and who struggle with reading comprehension of Standard Edited American English. The goal of this course is to provide the students with the reading skills necessary to be confident and independent readers and to help them improve comprehension of written English in order to compete successfully in any academic program.
  • ENGCMP0008 ESL WRITING WORKSHOP (3 cr.): Offered each fall, this course is for students whose first language is not English; it is designed to strengthen writing skills in preparation for the rigors of academic writing. The course includes grammar, sentence structure, paragraph writing, writing as a process, writing for a variety of purposes, and documentation.
  • ENGCMP 0005 ENGLISH COMPOSITION 1 ESL (3 cr.): Offered each spring, this course is a continuation of the ESL writing curriculum. It begins with a review of English grammar and sentence/paragraph structure, familiarizes students with the essay structure, and explores the five genres most often used in tertiary writing: classification, exemplification, argument, compare and contrast, and cause and effect. It also emphasizes critical vocabulary, integration of evidence, and the documentation process.
  • ENGCMP 0006 ENGLISH COMPOSITION 2 ESL (3 cr.): Offered each fall, this course reinforces and extends students’ understanding of the essay and its various rhetorical strategies and styles.  It introduces students to a variety of writing strategies used in analytical essays, and it serves as an introduction to more sophisticated study of the academic argument and critical analysis of written texts.  It develops greater understanding of evidentiary sources and  the college level research process.   
  • COMMRC0025 Speaking and Listening Workshop ESL (1 cr.): Offered each fall, this course is for students whose first language is not English. This course focuses on refining pronunciation in English, making academic presentations, and participating in academic discussions. In order to achieve the most success in this class, students must be able to speak flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.  During this course, students will broaden their understanding of vocabulary appropriate for entry level college discussions; gain knowledge and experience with professional presentation techniques; give several academic presentations; lead discussions, and gain confidence speaking in public situations.
  • COMMRC 0052 Public Speaking ESL (3 cr.): Offered each spring, this course is for students whose first language is not English. This course is designed to develop students’ speaking abilities and enhance their confidence in public speaking situations in academic and social settings.  It does so by emphasizing both theory and practice.  It includes a wide variety of readings, assignments, and class work that center on the development and application of English peaking and listening skills necessary in public speaking situations. Students in this course develop skills in research, organization, style, delivery, argument, ethics, and criticism of informative, persuasive, and commemorative speeches.

Transfer Procedure from courses in the English as a Second Language (ESL) Composition Sequence Composition or Public Speaking sequence and placement in a standard non-ESL English Composition sequence. *

The following protocol will be privileged when students desire to transfer from an ESL course to a standard English Composition:

1. Students will submit a request in writing (email) to their respective ESL professor outlining the reasons that they believe it is in their best interest to transfer to a non-ESL course.  When making such a request, students should consider whether they have demonstrated that remaining in the ESL sequence of Public Speaking or Composition is neither essential nor beneficial to their success as undergraduates experience at UPJ.

2. Following a student’s request, the ESL Coordinator will meet with Humanities Division Chair to discuss the student’s performance in ESL Writing Workshop, Speaking and Listening Workshop, or in ESL Composition 1 class.  He or she will note

  • The student’s routine performance in class.
  • The student’s current grade in class.
  • Two significant evaluated performances (speeches or essays) in the ESL class in which the student is currently enrolled.

and make a recommendation that the student either continue in the ESL sequence or take an exam to demonstrate that he or she has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed both in standard English Composition courses and in the majority of programs offered at UPJ.

3. The Humanities Division Chair will then meet with student regarding his or her request.

4. If the Humanities Division Chair concludes that the student has consistently demonstrated a level of excellence in oral or written performance that suggests that continued enrollment in ESL courses may be essential or beneficial to the student’s success in his or her undergraduate experience at UPJ, he will coordinate an on-site written exam with the student.  The student’s performance during this evaluation will be separately evaluated by both the Division Chair and the ESL Coordinator; based on their evaluation of this proctored exam and the student’s performance in his or her ESL class, the Division Chair will determine whether it is in the student’s best interest to remain in the ESL course sequence or transition—at the conclusion of the student’s current class—to a non-ESL course and coordinate same.

5. Students recommended by the Humanities Chair for standard Public Speaking or Composition classes must pass the ESL course in which they are enrolled in order to enroll in a standard Public Speaking or Composition class.

*ESL ENGCMP 0005 Composition 1 and ESL ENGCMP 0006 Composition 2 are equivalents of ENGCMP0005 and ENGCMP0006 and satisfy foundational composition course requirements at University of Pittsburgh campuses and at most other universities in America.